They are the journalistic equivalent of a rock band. Each is an artist with certain instruments from the orchestra of millennial media. Performing together as Western iMedia, they create a uniquely experiential style of story that engages millions of people.
And now they are taking their show on the road to London, England.
The fusion journalists of Western iMedia, a Millennial news start-up embedded in WKU’s School of Journalism & Broadcasting, have received a US$10,000 commission from INMA to design and perform coverage of INMA’s 2016 World Congress next week.
INMA’s annual World Congress is essentially the Davos of media. It brings together some 500 top editorial business leaders, policymakers, digital innovators, selected intellectuals, and journalists to discuss the most pressing issues facing the world’s news and media environment.
This will be the sixth consecutive year that INMA has called on WiM’s innovative storytelling techniques to connect what happens at its congress to the wider interest in these issues worldwide.
In 2015, working out of The New York Times building for three days, this elite band of WKU students reached 3.4 million people and achieved exposure of 22.8 million with their multifaceted online and mobile news production.
It combined a series of code-enhanced narratives, journalistic adaptations of some common social-networking apps, and more than 50 custom-designed photo/video/audio amalgamations.
“We are thrilled to have Western iMedia back again for the World Congress,” said INMA Senior Editor Dawn McMullan. “Each year, they bring a young and professional energy to the event with their storytelling abilities. As an industry leader, INMA encourages its members to be on the cutting edge of technology and storytelling trends. The WKU team helps us practice what we preach.”
Sporting titles such as news experience designer, engagement producer, storybuilder, multiplatform media composer and editorial technologist, the Western iMedia band in London this year will include students Lauren Boone and Leah Brown of Louisville; Kayla Boyd of Shepherdsville; Murphy Burke of Des Moines, Iowa; Amanda Johnson of Nashville, Tennessee; Ashley Knight of Hendersonville, Tennessee; and Nolan Miles of Bardstown. In addition, two recent WKU and Western iMedia alum are providing production support: Nicole Coomer of Bowling Green and Catherine Havel of Louisville.
They are led by Kerry J. Northrup, an international media executive who serves as WKU’s Turner Multimedia Professor and a professional in residence.
The concept of the journalistic band comes out of Northrup’s research at WKU prototyping journalistic techniques to engage the increasingly-important millennial and post-Millennial audience that largely shuns traditional mainstream news.
In a world full of immediate information, he says, it is the experience of being informed that comes to matter more.
“Experiential news media are the new mainstream as far as Millennial participants are concerned,” Northrup said. “These tend to be entrepreneurial activities with startup-style collaboration bearing little resemblance to traditional, pre-packaged editorial operations in terms of workflow, organisation or product. Instead, they comprise small, multi-skilled, multi-tasking groups that create together very much like a band of musicians making music.
“It’s not so much their instruments, or technologies, that differentiate them as it is how they use them in novel ways that come to be recognized as their particular style. It is that style as much as their story that attracts their community. Because for Millennials today, media is a lifestyle choice, like the music you choose to listen to.”